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Glenn EDC – Spacecraft Safety

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.


Using the engineering design process, students will design and build a model of a spacecraft that can safely transport two astronauts on a mission to the Moon, Mars, or other destinations in space. A drop test will determine how well the spacecraft will protect the astronauts during landing. During the drop test, the model spacecraft will be deployed, or dropped, from a height of at least two meters to simulate landing. The astronauts must stay securely in their seats during the drop test. The spacecraft must also have an internal tank for fuel.

Supporting Science Investigations:

  1. Egg Drop Challenge – Discover how to protect a falling object using readily available classroom materials.
  2. Wall Smashers – See the effects of drag on a moving object by controlling the speed of a ball hitting a wall.

Introduction Video

Challenge Content

EDC-04: Spacecraft Safety – Facilitation Guide (coming soon)

EDC-04: Spacecraft SafetyFacilitator Presentation

Next Generation Science Standards Addressed

Engineering Design

  • MS–ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS–ETS1–2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS–ETS1–3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • MS–ETS1–4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. 

Forces and Interactions

  • MS–PS2–1. Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.

Related NASA Content

Online Resources

Informational Videos

Contact Information

Gerald Voltz
Education Program Specialist
(216) 433-8817

Glenn Research Center – Office of STEM Engagement

Phone: (216) 433-6656

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